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Don’t Cookie-Cutter Kids

one year old boy

Isn’t he adorable? Love this guy

I’m caring for a little boy who just turned one in August.  His mom has been slowly cutting down the bottles and replacing it with a cup.  He will drink juice or water from a cup just fine, but will not drink milk from one.  He takes a sip and spits it all over, then cries and cries and cries.  She is so afraid he is not getting the milk he needs that she breaks down in the morning and gives him a bottle.  She doesn’t now, and never has, let the child take a bottle to bed with him so there is no danger of tooth rot.  Apparently, a lot of people are giving her grief because her son is now officially one and still has a bottle once or twice a day.

*gets on my soap box again*

Here are my thoughts on the subject.  I have been caring for children for close to thirty years.  I have seen many, many babies in that time.  I have worked with many families.  Almost everyone has some kind of opinion on the “best” ways to do things concerning bottle and pacifier breaking.  Some people are very laid back about it, some go to the extreme and have four-year old children still hauling around a bottle or pacifier, and some cut the child off cold turkey the day they turn one.  I have found that the majority of parents fall into the last category.  “Oh, you’re now one. BAM!  Everything will now change.”  The sad thing is, these same people are frustrated because their happy baby is suddenly cranky and unsettled.

Duh, ya think?

From the time a baby is born, a lot of parents work hard to get a routine started.  They strive to get the baby into a routine, aka habit, of needing food every so many hours, usually three or four hours apart.  Then, when the baby turns one, suddenly the entire routine is broken.  The poor baby is confused and upset.  Habits are very hard to break.  I don’t know why we should expect a baby to have an easier time of accepting an abrupt change of routine than we would have.  Maybe I’m just ultra sensitive to this as my life follows a routine and I try to maintain it to keep my sanity.

The way I like to transition is to start early and slowly work towards the goal.  As soon as a baby is able to hold a training cup, we get started.  Usually around six months.  Let them play with the cup and put a little water or formula in it.  I give it to them at meal times.  It usually doesn’t take long and the baby is using a cup.  Then, as the big first birthday draws near, they are used to a cup and it’s a familiar part of the routine.  Then start reducing the number of bottles they get, and make sure they get a cup with milk at meals.  Taking away one bottle per every two weeks works well, usually.  I pay attention to the child’s mood and adjust the speed at which I reduce the bottle.  For some, it takes a while, for others, it’s painless and quick.

Babies are no different from you and I.  They are humans, with all the same feelings and emotions.  We adults are equipped to handle them better as we have life experience, and can actually use words to communicate.  I think it’s better to gently guide the child where you want them to be, and have patience.  Every baby is a little different, you can’t expect cookie-cutter babies!  Respect that and accept it.  That bottle really will go away.  All in good time.

The same applies to toilet learning (I have been informed that toilet training is not an appropriate term as it sounds like you’re talking about a dog not a person *shrug*).  Some kids train..excuse me…learn by two and others are three.  Keep calm and patient and these things do happen!

*gets off soap-box*

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